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Gross food isn't just 'pink slime'

Are you sick of hearing about "pink slime" yet?

I'm sure some of us wish we had never heard about it in the first place. It really is a lot easier to enjoy your Slim Jim when you don't know how it's made, isn't it?

If you've read any of the best-selling books ("Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser, "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan) or seen any of the zillion documentaries ("Food Inc.," "Our Daily Bread,") about factory farming and industrial food production, you've probably already been sufficiently grossed out by just about everything in your refrigerator.

Even if you live on an organic farm, it might be hard to sit down to your pork chops without thinking of Wilbur the pig.

But are finely textured beef trimmings -- the filler dubbed pink slime by a revolted USDA scientist -- any worse than anything else many of us eat and feed our children on a regular basis? Consider:

*Hot dogs are made with pork, beef and chicken "trimmings" -- all the leftover, gross, carcass stuff. Once it's ground up; starch, salt, corn syrup and additives (including nitrite, which has been linked to cancer) are added to the pink, slimy mix.

Hot dogs in natural casings (the fancier, more expensive ones) traditionally come in sheep intestines. Yum! Other casings are made from a chemically treated slurry of animal collagen, bones and tendons, which are made plastic with glycerin.

*Most processed luncheon meats that aren't sliced from a whole animal are made from leftover chunks of "meat" that are mixed with fat, water and additives, then stuck back together and pressed to form that round-ish shape you see in the deli case.

In an episode of Food Revolution, chef Jamie Oliver shows a group of kids how their beloved chicken nuggets are made. He throws a bloody, picked-clean chicken carcass in a food processor -- bones and all -- and throws a load of powdered additives into the pink, slimy stuff that comes out.

But even after the kids have spent the whole time yelling "Eww!" over the process and saying how yucky the meat is, they're ready to shove the same stuff in their mouths once it's cut into a nugget shape and fried in a pan. You can see the clip on my Facebook page.

To be fair, using "pink slime" filler does make leaner ground beef more affordable for families who are struggling to make ends meet. And though it's unappetizing, all of the experts agree that it is as safe as any other processed food we eat.

Am I saying bring back pink slime? No way! But let's be honest about the rest of the stuff we're eating.

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